You've probably noticed a lot of rainbow flags flying high — that's because it's Pride Month. And people are proudly showing their support.
Here's everything you need to know about Pride Month, the history of the month, how people celebrate and what you can do to participate in Pride Month at work.
What is Pride Month?
June is Pride Month, which celebrates and supports the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer (LGBTQ+ community — and to commemorate the Stonewall riots in Manhattan, which occurred at the end of June 1969. So, every year, the LGBTQ+ community and allies come together to celebrate love, diversity, equality, acceptance and pride.
What is the history of Pride Month?
Pride Month has been ongoing for years now, though it's been steadily growing in popularity and size as ever more people feel safe and comfortable coming out and expressing their identities — which, of course, happens in tandem with increasing societal support of the LGBTQ community. Today, the events held during Pride Month attract millions around the world.
Again, the commemorative month got its start to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, which were a tipping point for the Gay Liberation Movement in the United States.
"The riots, which spanned over three days, were some of the most prominent instances in which LGBT people resisted against police discrimination," according to the Human Rights Campaign. "It was a watershed moment in LGBT history — it is often accredited as the start of the modern gay liberation movement, which later expanded into the larger LGBT rights movement. Since Stonewall, Pride has seen a great number of changes and transformations."
While Pride was original solely a political demonstration to voice LGBTQ+ demands for equal rights and protections, by 1991, Pride began to resemble what it is today. Pride Month started with the last Sunday in June initially designated as Gay Pride Day or Christopher Street Gay Liberation Day, though the actual day was flexible. Ultimately, major cities across the country started celebrating all month long.
"The purpose of the commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally," according to the Liberty of Congress.
But pride wasn't always celebrated in June. Back in 1994, a coalition of education-based organizations in the United States had designated October as LGBT History Month. And in 1995, the General Assembly of the National Education Association passed a resolution that included LGBT History Month within a list of commemorative months. During LGBT History Month, National Coming Out Day (October 11th) and the first “March on Washington” in 1979 are both commemorated.
What are some common activities during Pride Month?
Activities during Pride Month vary around the world. But most cities host vivacious parades and a series of events such as campaigns, picnics, parties, workshops, symposia and concerts. There are also memorials held for members of the LGBTQ+ community who have been lost to hate crimes and/or HIV and AIDs.
To find out more about Pride parades and activities, check out this Pride calendar that tracks Pride events across the country. You can also simply reach out to your local LGBTQ+ center (if you have one) and ask them what's on their Pride agenda.
How can you celebrate Pride Month at work?
There are tons of ways to celebrate Pride Month at the office, whether you work for a startup or in a corporate office — and whether or not you're part of the human resources team or another group in charge of coordinating such celebrations.
Here are five simple ways you can celebrate the LGBTQ+ community in the workplace — and get your colleagues involved, too.
1. Wear your pride, proudly.
Wear your pride on your outfit to work. Wear a T-shirt, a hat, a bracelet, etc. to send a message to everyone in your office that you stand with the LGBTQ+ community. You can seek out Pride merchandise from places like the Human Rights Campaign and through a bunch of Etsy sellers like Brave New World Designs, for example.
Both of these happen to also share profits with LGBTQ+ organizations, so you know that you're also making a difference by wearing your pride.
2. Learn how to become a better ally.
Set up a luncheon to learn about how to become a better ally, whether or not you identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community. The Human Rights Campaign boasts an online resource, Coming out as a Supporter, that outlines ways to be a better ally when someone comes out to you.
You can also check out the Human Rights Campaign's map that highlights the policies and laws in each state, so you can stay abreast of LGBTQ+ issues and start and participate in conversations. Knowing these policies and laws will also help you advocate for your LGBTQ+ coworkers.
3. Donate your time or money to an LGBTQ+ organization.
One surefire way to make a difference is to donate your time or money to an LGBTQ+ organization, and you can start a campaign to raise money in your office or work with a local LGBTQ+ center to ask them what their needs are. There are tons of national organizations that work on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community, such as the Human Rights Campaign, the True Colors Fund, the National LGBTQ Task Force, Immigration Equality, Service & Advocacy for GLBT Elders (SAGE), PFLAG, the Transgender Law Center, the Family Equality Council, the Association of LGBTQ Journalists, the Anti-Violence Project, the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, and the National Center for Transgender Equality to get you started.
To get involved through volunteering, there are organizations like The Trevor Project through which you can gather some colleagues and go help counsel the LGBTQ+ youth in your area or launch a campaign with the True Colors Fund to help those experiencing homelessness.
AnnaMarie Houlis is a feminist, a freelance journalist and an adventure aficionado with an affinity for impulsive solo travel. She spends her days writing about women’s empowerment from around the world. You can follow her work on her blog, HerReport.org, and follow her journeys on Instagram @her_report, Twitter @herreportand Facebook.